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Solar system embroidery

I finished a large project this week, so a few photos to celebrate, and explain some of the process and thoughts behind my latest space embroidery.


This embroidery is a depiction of the inner solar system: the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars. I placed them in their (approximate) correct position according to where they were on the day I started.

Yep, I know it’s not to scale. The orbits are roughly right, but the size of the actual bodies is all over the place. I just made them the size I felt happy with. And they do, they do make me happy.


Conceptually, this piece started with the idea of the Sun radiating its energy outwards into the void. But the void is not empty. It’s a complex, structured space – gravitational and magnetic fields, electromagnetic radiation, dust and debris surround the system. Debris like us.


I started by mapping out the orbits and the planetary positions, and transferred that to the fabric by tacking through a sketch. I then tacked on the radial lines and the planets. Using the tacking as a guide, I then filled in all the blackwork blocks. I started with darker colours near the sun, then faded in intensity further away. I decided on a blackwork pattern for each sector as I went, this meant lots of unpicking as there were some I was unhappy with after I’d surrounded them.

Next I couched down gold cord around the sun and stitched in the planets. I then couched down white cord for the orbits and sectors, and used outline stitch to border each sector in between – again fading to lighter colours on the outside sectors.


With its infinite variety of structured pattern, the blackwork technique just felt ‘right’ for the piece. And so I present the blackness of space rendered in blackwork, with not a black thread in sight.


Another project done, time for framing. It’s like finishing a good book: I’m feeling a little lost, but ready for a new project!


  • fabric: 40 count permin linen
  • threads: cotton and metallic
  • dimensions: 35cm circumference
  • started: May 5, completed: August 12, 2013